Exports of UK goods to the European Union dropped by more than two-fifths in January as the Brexit transition period came to an end.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that overall exports from the UK fell by £5.6bn – 19.3%. It was driven by a £5.6bn, or 40.7%, plunge in exports of goods to the EU, the ONS said.
Imports also fell, by £8.9bn overall (21.6%), while imports from the EU dropped £6.6BN (28%), the figures show.
The underlying total trade deficit fell £3.7 billion to £1.9 billion in January:
▪️ goods exports fell £5.3 billion, with EU exports falling £5.6 billion
▪️ goods imports fell £8.9 billion, with EU imports falling £6.6 billion
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) March 12, 2021
The end of the transition period coincided with the spread of a new strain of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK, causing lorry drivers to need tests to cross the border at the English Channel. Another national lockdown was also imposed at the beginning of the month.
Since then, other measures have shown that trade levels have in part recovered.
Companies had been stockpiling ahead of the end of the transition period, and may also have been using their stock instead of buying new goods in January.
Because the value of imports fell more than exports in January, the trade deficit for the month narrowed by £3.7bn to £1.9bn.
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